The company says that by joining forces with IOI and other firms, it is now able to control the supply chain from 'tree to customer', guaranteeing tracability, quality and sustainable palm oil.
Loders is building the largest palm oil refinery and fractionation plant in Europe in Rotterdam, Netherlands, which on completion later this year should process 2,500-3,000 tons of palm a day. Last year, the company acquired Soctek in Asia and enlarged its US refinery in Channahon.
Palm oil is becoming increasingly important as an ingredient in a wide range of foods, not least because it is trans-fat-free. Trans fatty acids are formed when fats are hydrogenated to make them more solid and extend their shelf life, and are thought to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Because palm oil is semi-solid naturally, it does not require hydrogenation.
Although widespread commercial plantings only began in the 1990s, Malaysia is now the world's largest producer of palm oil, and continues to benefit from a growing awareness of the health properties of the antioxidant-rich oil. Indeed, palm oil is now second only to soybean oil in terms of global demand, accounting for 28 per cent of total edible oil sales.
But this popularity has led to an increasing problem in meeting demand and inevitably prices have risen sharply. "In early 2002 palm oil reached $300 per metric tonne, but over the last few weeks this figure has tipped $500," an analyst at the US Department of Agriculture Foreign Agriculture Service told FoodNavigator.com last June.
As a result, edible oil companies have joined forces to create a new organisation, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), whose principal objective is to promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil through co-operation within the supply chain and open dialogue with stakeholders.